Inside MatchesFashion’s Frieze residency in Los Angeles
Along a winding stretch of road, tucked away in the quiet of one of the city’s most coveted zip codes, sits a discreet, mid-century modern marvel. From the outside, the Simon House’s facade is blind except for huge red double doors, the color of wild salmon. But as soon as you skip on the floating steps over the entry pond, the place opens up like a colorful pop-up book, giving up its secrets. That’s thanks in large part to MatchesFashion, a London-based retailer that’s made this Los Angeles gem its home away from home for the week, setting up displays and installations, in partnership with contemporary art fair Frieze Los Angeles.
In an airy, larger-than-life living space, light pools from the floor-to-ceiling window walls, and drapes over a colorful display of clothes, handbags and shoes. Set against a backdrop of an inexhaustible blue California sky, mannequins are dressed in exquisite pieces from Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection. A paper-white cotton poplin with hyperbolized balloon sleeves, cinched at the waist with its own belt. Leather punctuated with denim. A head-to-toe pink suit. An inky, full-skirted dress that reminds me of a patchy sky, just minutes, if not seconds, away from a downpour.
They’re displayed like art — and perusing them very much feels like being in a museum on a particularly quiet weekday. Which is exactly how I feel. Even the placement of this stately, gorgeous display was a thoughtful decision. After all, the sky — its changing mood and temperament — is what creative director Sarah Burton turned her attention to when designing the collection. And although there’s a heavy emphasis here on McQueen, there are so many more labels to explore.
With their raindrop crystal embroidery and an architectural, arched heel, these McQueen boots came alive under the filtered light.
Spread over five different spaces-slash-rooms, some of MatchesFashion’s most prized pieces are perfectly curated for the most immersive, leisurely shopping experience I’ve ever had. In one room, on laminate white pedestals, there’s Jacquemus, Bottega Veneta and Nodaleto’s chunky square heels, in bubblegum pinks and cyan blues. The greenery-covered wall is studded with coveted pieces from Loewe, Gucci and Balenciaga, to name a few. All of this is interwoven still-life-like with fruit — a hand of bananas, clumps of tangerines. Touch them; they’re real.
There’s homeware, too. In another room, charger and dinner plates, and serving bowls boast organic, pebble-like patterns, inspired by the landscape of the Mojave Desert — a collaboration between brands L’OBJET and The Haas Brothers. The quirky collection also features incense burners in the shape of mythical creatures inhabiting the designers’ imaginary realm. They’re fun and everyone would agree, universally adorable. I can’t help but smile ear to ear.
Outside, there’s even more to see. Aquazzura! Givenchy! Sacai! Judith Leiber’s rainbow-colored candy clutch, in particular, catches my eye as it glints under the sun with showgirl pizazz. As if the place needed any more drama! Here, the expansive patio juts out of the landscape, and standing near the edge of it feels like peering over the bow of a ship into a kind of vastness. The entirety of Los Angeles is spread out ahead.
By the time I’m done poring over every piece here, it’s late afternoon, and the heat is slowly turning into a tamer, more pleasant warmth. Every now and then, a decadent breeze appears out of nowhere and reminds us that this unusually hot week is a short-lived gift. After walking the floors of the whole house, both indoor and out, I settle into one of the pool-side wicker chairs with my friends. We idle away the hour, sitting in the shade of the property, a flute of champagne in hand.
The words “MatchesFashion” and the silhouette of a palm tree reflect on the surface of the outdoor pool, and as the sun sinks lower and lower, the image becomes clearer, more crisp and in focus. So does something else: MatchesFashion might be continents away from its birthplace of London, but it somehow has made a home out of Los Angeles.
Photo credit: Jacquex Frankel and @MariGoRound